Founded as a dance label, Instinct Records first gained prominence in 1990 with the success of the label’s first signing, Moby, one of the most durable stars of the early 90’s Rave scene. In addition to pioneering the introduction of techno and rave music in America, Instinct became known for its parallel emphasis on the acid jazz scene. Many of the bands Instinct introduced during these years went on to major label success.
Through the middle 90’s Instinct’s electronic focus brought it closer towards the alternative circuit. Our early work with bands such as Messiah, Cabaret Voltaire and The Drum Club inevitably lead to North American releases from The Creatures (Siouxsie & Budgie of the Banshees), Marc Almond (Soft Cell), Marianne Faithful, Jimmy Somerville, Sarah Cracknell (Saint Etienne), Edwyn Collins, Violet Indiana (Robin Guthrie of the Cocteau Twins), Isobel Campbell (Belle & Sebastian), Rasputina, King Missile, Cranes, and Future Bible Heroes (Stephin Merritt & Claudia Gonson from The Magnetic Fields, Chris Ewen from Figures On A Beach). Perhaps the pinnacle of our work in this genre was the wonderful album “Tropical Brainstorm” from the late Kirsty MacColl. It proved to be her biggest selling record in the United States and sealed her legacy in a very deserving way.
In 1995 we launched Shadow Records to focus on the more organic side of the underground scene pioneering the Trip Hop and Electronica genre’s in the US. Notable artists from the Shadow roster include DJ Krush, DJ Cam, Kruder & Dorfmeister, as well as America’s introduction to Ninja Tune Records.
While remaining immersed in underground and alternative music, Instinct also moved in a distinctly commercial direction as it expanded to become one of the key players in the Smooth Jazz genre. With a roster of contemporary jazz artists including Gota, Soundscape UK, Count Basic, Shakatak, Chris Standring, and Brian Tarquin, Instinct has earned its reputation, garnering many nominations and awards as the best Independent Smooth Jazz label.
As the new millennium approached, so did new ventures and ideas. This lead to the launching of Evolver Records; a dynamic label that focused on organic sounds from some of the most interesting musicians out there. Amongst the label’s highlighted releases were some of the earlier tracks unearthed from Bebel Gilberto, “Songs To No One” from Jeff Buckley and Gary Lucas, as well as albums from long-time Fela Kuti drummer Tony Allen, Luka Bloom, Sarah Jane Morris, Kiki & Herb and Stacey Earle.
A merger with Knitting Factory Records led to Instinct Records re-issuing some jewels from the KFR catalog including “Fluting On The Hump” from King Missile and “Power Of Pussy” from Bongwater while Evolver reissued classics from Cuong Vu, Hasidic New Wave, Gary Lucas ands Friends Of Dean Martinez.
The labels under the Instinct Records umbrella maintain a lively catalog that touches on all the genres the labels have and continue to explore. We invite you to have a look, listen, sample and enjoy!
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